Category Archives: Water

Bottled Water Builds an Island

In Vreni Gurd’s article the other day, Another Reason Not to Drink Bottled Water, she touched on the issue of where those plastic water bottles end up. It may be much worse than you imagined.

trash-islandEver heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Yeah, I didn’t just make that up, it’s real. A giant (and I do mean giant) garbage dump floating in the North Pacific Ocean, made mostly of plastic. And it’s not going anywhere fast. Because plastic doesn’t break down and decompose. Continue reading

Another Reason Not to Drink Bottled Water

bottledwaterA couple of years ago I went on a bit of a rampage about bottled water (click “Water” in Categories to see a list). I knew it was more than a little ridiculous to pay for something you could get for free out of the tap, but the more I learned the more than ridiculous I realized whole affair has become. Continue reading

Reasons to Skip Bottled Water

When I switched from bottled water to my own re-usable bottles, I was sure it would be a huge hassle. I was sure I’d forget to refill them, forget to take them along, lose them… In fact, it hasn’t been nearly so dramatic. It’s a very easy habit to maintain, I’ve relatively infrequently been caught waterless, and I haven’t lost a bottle yet.


Like many people, I used to think bottled water was a good idea. Maybe even better than tap water after scares like the deadly water contamination tragedy in small town Ontario. But after I’d done a little accidental research and then dug a little deeper there were some compelling reasons:

  • Tap water must meet higher safety standards than bottled water
  • It’s estimated that 85% to 90% of plastic bottles end up as landfill or floating in the ocean
  • Re-using those bottles seems a decent compromise, but it’s highly unsanitary
  • We’re running out of clean, drinkable water on this planet, and my region of the world is not immune

Don’t Take My Word For It

Bottled Water Isn’t Cool covers a lot of these reasons and more, in greater detail. And a quick search of the Internet will bring up an unlimited number of videos and articles. Here are a few resources to get you started:

Flow movie
Blue Gold movie
Bottled Water Isn’t Cool
More Benefits to Drinking Local Water
Creative Answers to the Question of Water
Drink Local…Water, I Mean

The Story of Bottled Water

I came across The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard in March 2009, loved it, and immediately had to write about it. In the 20 minute cartoon video Annie describes in clear, simple terms how demand for stuff is created, the life cycle of stuff — all kinds of stuff — and what stuff is doing to our world.

Once again, with her characteristic clarity and simplicity, Annie has a tale to tell and this time it’s the Story of Bottled Water. This 8 minute video gives you the basic run-down of how we came to believe that bottled was better than tap, and in what ways this is not true.

The issue of bottled water is an important one. If you want to know more, select the “Water” category on where you’ll find articles, movies, and links to related organizations and resources.

Before We’re All Tapped Out

Okay, I know I’ve been on a bit of a rant lately about our most precious resource, local water. BUT, before I step down off my soapbox I have to tell you, I’m not the only one!

I Am Not Alone

First, the other day I was in a coffee shop and requested a decaf latte and a glass of water. My friend was paying so I didn’t notice until I arrived at our table that she had paid for a bottle of water. I then suggested she take the bottled water, if in fact she would drink it, and went back to the counter to request a glass of water. “Truly, I’d prefer a glass of tap water, no ice,” I said kindly. It was duly poured from the pitcher right in front of the server.

As I walked back to my table another patron asked curiously why I had insisted on tap water. “Because Vancouver has great water. Because it’s cleaner than bottled water. Because there are tons of plastic floating in our oceans. Because of the politics around our freedom of access to water. Those are a few of the reasons…” She applauded my insistence and we shared a bonding moment of appreciation for fresh, local, delicious, tap water.

Discover the Truth

Second, there are a whole bunch of other people throughout North America who are also concerned about bottled water and there’s a new documentary that proves it, Tapped. From the producers of Who Killed the Electric Car? and I.O.U.S.A. comes another let’s-get-to-the-truth film about the bottled water industry. It’s a challenging topic, one with many faces including:

  • The advertising and marketing scam of bottled water
  • Loss of access to water as a basic human right
  • Toxicity of the plastic bottles themselves
  • Lack of adequate safety regulation of the industry
  • The environmental impact of the used bottles

You Are Not Powerless

Tired of hearing about the problem, but feeling powerless? Stop being powerless! You can make small, easy decisions that support your health, your community, and your right to fresh, clean water.

For starters buy safe, reusable bottles (metal, glass, non-BPA plastic)… and use them. If I can do it, you can do it.

Then, check out the Tapped website for additional ideas and resources on how to be part of the solution.

Industrialized Water

Industrialized food production is a hot topic these days as more and more people learn the truth about what, exactly, is going into their mouths.

Typically we think of industrialized food as mega farms that produce miles and miles of the same crop year after year using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Or factory farms housing thousands of cattle, chickens or pigs in close quarters that are fed growth hormones and antibiotics.

But what about water? If you buy bottled water, there’s an excellent chance it was pumped by the hectolitre out of some municipality’s ground water, at little or no cost to the bottling company, without thought for the impact to the local urban and agricultural community, then shipped a lengthy distance to a shop near you by one of only a handful of huge multinational companies who pretty much control the industry.

Hmmm, if that’s not the industrialization of water, I’m not sure what to call it.

Note: If you’re still drinking bottled water in the mistaken belief it’s better for you, you may want to go easy on the promotional hype and brush up on the facts about bottled water.

Related posts:

Creative Answers to the Question of Water
Drink Local…Water, I Mean
Who Owns Your Water
Enjoy the Luxury of Local, Drinkable Water
More Benefits to Drinking Local Water
Bottled Water Isn’t Cool
Industrial vs. Artisan Farming
Organic Eggs and Factory Farming

Bottled Water Isn’t Cool

7 Compelling Reasons to STOP Drinking Bottled Water
by Mary Johnston, CEO watermatters
Reprinted with permission

Why on Earth is anyone still drinking water bottled in plastic?

Not only is it a potential health hazard and more expensive than gasoline, consuming water from plastic water bottles contributes to global warming, environmental pollution and the rampant privatization of water. David Suzuki has been warning us of the ecological damage of bottled water for years. With green practices becoming trendy, consuming bottled water is losing its glamour and quickly becoming a social taboo.

7 Compelling Reasons to Stop Drinking Bottled Water

#1   It’s Making Us Sick – Plastics Are Toxic

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET #1 plastic) is used for single serve plastic water bottles.
This type of water bottle has been approved for one-time use only. It has become common practice for many people to unknowingly re-use these plastic bottles. Studies show that bacteria easily breeds in PET plastic bottles when re-used and that re-use may cause DEHA, a carcinogen, to migrate from the plastic into water contained in the bottle. A new 2006 study revealed that significant levels of antimony, a toxic chemical, leaches into water sold in PET plastic bottles.

Bisphenal-A is a toxic compound found in polycarbonate (#7 plastic), the rigid, translucent, hard plastic used in 5 gallon water bottles. It is a hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen and is linked to early-onset puberty, declining sperm counts, obesity and the huge increase in breast and prostate cancer. Due to the alarming toxicity of this chemical, in March 2007 a billion-dollar class action suit was filed in Los Angeles against five leading manufacturers of baby bottles containing Bisphenal-A. BPA has been officially banned in Canada as of October 2010.

#2   It’s Expensive

The extortionate price of gas pales in comparison to bottled water. A litre (33.8 ounces) of tap water in Canada costs taxpayers an average of 0.0005 cents. A litre of bottled water sells between $0.50 and $6.00.That makes the markup on one litre of bottled water a whopping 1,000 – 12,000%.

#3   It’s Under-Regulated

More than 1/4 of bottled water consumed by Canadians is simply filtered tap water. In Canada tap water has to meet 160 standards compared to less than half a dozen for bottled water. In Canada bottled water is considered a ‘food product’ and is regulated under the Federal Food and Drug Act. Bottled water production facilities are only inspected every 2 – 3 years whereas regular drinking water operators are subject to the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines and must test and report on a regular basis.

Contrary to its claims of purity, bottled water is not immune to contamination. A recent US study indicated that 1/3 of all brands tested contained arsenic and/or E.coli and that ¼ of all bottled water was simply tap water sold at a significant profit In March 2007, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned the public not to consume imported Jermuk Classic Brand Natural Sparkling Mineral Water because it contained excessive levels of arsenic. In 2004, Coca-Cola recalled its entire Dasani line of bottled water in the UK due to toxic compounds formed in the water during the disinfection process. Learn more.

A two-year shelf life is considered acceptable for bottled water. There is no control over the change in the bottled water’s characteristics once it is bottled.

#4   It’s Polluting Our Planet

The pollution and energy consumption involved in the production, shipping and disposal of plastic bottles is staggering. “The production of one kilogram of PET plastic requires 17.5 kilograms of water and results in air pollution emissions of over half a dozen significant pollutants. In other words, the water required to create one plastic bottle is significantly more than that bottle will contain” says Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defense.

Plastics are the fastest growing form of municipal waste. They do not biodegrade. An estimated 88% of water bottles are not recycled. Our oceans, now littered with plastic, may be one of the most alarming of environmental concerns today. Most plastic floats near the sea surface where it is mistaken for food by birds and fishes. Through the global food chain, it is contaminating trillions upon trillions of ocean inhabitants and ultimately humans.

#5 Water Is Getting Scarce – Fast!

Severe drought is occurring in many regions around the globe with no sign of letting up. Meanwhile aquifers that can take hundreds of years to recharge have been depleted.

More than one billion people lack access to clean drinking water. Thirty-one countries face water scarcity and water sources are rapidly becoming polluted and depleted. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages. Learn more

Australia is experiencing its fifth consecutive year of drought. Permanent drought is predicted for the Southwestern U.S., much of which has been in severe drought since 2000. Seven American states and Mexico are competing for water from the already over-allocated Colorado River. China is also experiencing ongoing drought. 700 million Chinese lack reliable access to water suitable for human consumption. India is also deeply concerned about lack of water. Sections of Mexico City are sinking at a rate of 12 inches a year due to over-tapping aquifers that have been drained to supply the city’s population of 9 million with water.

Meanwhile ‘Big Water’ companies are buying access to and drying up aquifers that have traditionally supplied human populations, farms and ecosystems with water.

Current legislation in British Columbia allows companies (including non-Canadian companies) to extract up to 1,710,000 gallons of groundwater per day without a permit and ship it anywhere in the world providing it is in bottles less than 20 litres in size. BC communities, such as Valemont, are loosing their water to profiteering bottled water companies who can take our water with no accountability to the environment or local citizens! This is grossly incongruent with basic ethics, water shortages that are starting to occur within British Columbia and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions around the globe.

#6 Privatizing Water Threatens a Human Right

Instead of working to help those without water, the world’s largest water corporations are seeking to privatize this precious resource, turning a public commons and a human right into a commodity. Learn more

Growing populations challenge aging water delivery systems that many local communities and governments cannot afford to update. ‘Big Water’ companies are moving in to take over public water systems in North America. They have plans to control 80% of the public water supply within the next few years. Paying grossly inflated prices for bottled water is intended to seduce us into accepting a transition from unlimited, affordable clean water for all to water becoming an expensive commodity owned and controlled by ‘Big Water’. We complain about gas prices. Why accept water prices that are even higher?

Disgracefully, Canada is the one country that has consistently voted against water as a human right at the World Water Forums in 2000, 2003 and 2006 and the 2002 UN Committee on Human Rights.

Meanwhile, more than 1/3 of the world’s population lives and dies without access to decent drinking water and sanitation.

Concerned groups, like the United Church of Canada, are taking a stand against bottled water on the moral grounds that water is a basic human right, not a commodity to be sold for profit.

#7 It’s No Longer Cool

Once a fashion trend, drinking bottled water will die in disgrace. Like the cigarette, once fashionable and now stigmatized, bottled water is on its way out. You know the story about the frog in the pot. Turn up the heat slowly and he won’t know he needs to get out. Don’t be caught in the heat.

Make the switch. The future of life on this planet depends on it. The new wave is health conscious and eco-friendly.

Say NO to bottled water.

For more information and additional articles and resources, visit Your Water Matters.

Related posts:

Enjoy the Luxury of Local, Drinkable Water
Who Owns Your Water
Drink Local…Water I Mean
More Reasons to Drink Local Water
Have Your Say on Vancouver’s Drinking Water

Creative Answers to the Question of Water

Okay, let’s be realistic. Not everyone is willing to give up the convenience of bottled water. If I forget to take water with me or am overcome with sudden thirst, I sometimes give in and buy it myself.

And, not everyone takes the health concerns seriously or thinks their contribution of plastic amounts to much in the grander scheme of things.

You Can Lead a Horse to Water

Instead of trying to drag consumers kicking and screaming toward more earth-friendly practices, what if we came up with other solutions that make it easy for even the least health- or environmentally-conscious among us to drink more responsibly? Like Craig Zucker did.

Zucker came up with Tap’D NY: filtered, local tap water from New York, sold in New York. Since most bottled water is just unfiltered tap water anyway, and a number of brands are shipped half way around the world for North American consumption, it makes more than a whole lot of sense.

I love the idea.

  • It’s just plain truthful. Forget the water, this alone is refreshing
  • It’s cleaner than regular bottled water
  • It racks up fewer frequent flyer miles
  • You don’t have to use a drinking fountain in NYC that you aren’t sure is clean
  • New Yorkers can stop feeling like idiots for buying water from a tap in Fiji that arrived on a freighter

So here’s a crazy idea: What if our city partnered with a truly local bottling company to create a profitable business that pumped money back into the municipal budget for things like upgrades to our water infrastructure? Wow, that’d be a novel, forward-thinking idea, wouldn’t it?

Related post:

Have Your Say on GVRD’s Drinking Water